Twelve weeks. Three months. 90 days, give or take a day.
That’s how long ago our world turned upside down. One minute we are planning an anniversary trip. All the details are in place. The littles are beyond excited to be a part. Then on a Thursday I find out that the cancer that’s been gone for 28 years has recurred.
A few days later, my husband calls and says words I can never forget, “Babe, I don’t think I’m going to make it.” He’s in his car, trying to get to a hospital. I call an Uber, afraid that I’ll find him on the side of the road. When I do find him, it is in a stark room in the ER — and he’s having a full-blown heart attack.
The next several hours are a blur. I find his car in the parking lot. It’s obvious he pulled in haphazardly and stumbled into the ER. We find out he needs heart surgery, a double bypass. I call my kids and they race toward us, just as confused as I am. While he’s in surgery I’m canceling flights and hotels and a 3-day cruise we dreamed about for a year. It was supposed to take us to a sunny place to celebrate a big anniversary.
Honestly, I didn’t care about any of that at the moment.
I just wanted my sweet guy to be okay. We later found out my jogging, healthy-eating guy has a genetic heart disease. There were no signs or symptoms, but it almost took his life.
For the next several weeks I took care of him as he recovered, and then a month ago we switched places. I put on the worn blue gown and bright yellow socks and they wheeled me into surgery. I lost a part of me that day, but the cancer was conquered.
When people ask, “How are you doing?” I can honestly say, “I’m blown away by how good God has been.”
They may not understand that, and sometimes I don’t totally understand it myself. All I know is that the peace that the Bible talks about is real. It has held us in ways that are beyond the norm. Sure, there have been lots of moments where I’ve wept and many times I’ve been overwhelmed, but my God is a safe place to share those very real feelings.
What I have also learned is that God uses people in the hardest places to bring joy.
Some of you have sent cards. Others sent private messages that spoke just the right words when we needed them. Some showed up with meals. Others sent a gift card so whoever was on caregiving duty could pick up a meal. Some sent up prayers daily. Others of you put surgery times in your phone so you could pray when we were wheeled back. Some of you prayed for my kids and my littles.
One sweet day I had two friends show up with guitars. I had been so housebound. They sat on the floor in my living room and we worshiped together. I sat in my recliner, bundled in warm blankets and I wept and wept, until that moment not realizing how much I needed what they had brought to me.
God’s people are meant to be an army for good.
I’m not naive enough to think that everyone has this when they need it, so it’s a reminder for me to do the same when all of this is behind us. We may not feel big enough to fix what someone else is going through, but it’s amazing what kindness can do — one act at a time, one person at a time.
I’ve been absent as I healed, but I’m coming to you today with a deep ocean of gratitude. I still have a couple of surgeries yet ahead, but I can’t help but remind myself and you, sweet friend, the strength and beauty of wrapping around each other — it’s the beauty of together.
Together we are stronger.
Together we make it through the hard places.
Together we make a difference.
Ask the Lord to show you who to love, and what to do. He’ll show you someone on his heart. Then do something. It may feel small, but I promise it will make a big difference.
I’d love to hear what you decide to do. When we love people, we become a small part of doing good. Together we become an army that wraps around those who need to know they are not alone.
- Listen to this episode of More Than Small Talk podcast “Suzie Has Cancer.” In this episode, we share more about this journey and how we can love others in hard places.
- 50 Ways to Show Appreciation to Those We Love — It’s a week all about love, but let’s show appreciation this week and every week to those we care about.